N E W S • F R A M E S • • • • •

About media framing • (written by Brian Dean)

Archive for the ‘Mirror’ Category

“News” = recycled clichés

News clichesOct 31, 2011 – This morning’s front pages present an arresting selection of news clichés

The Daily Express alerts us to a “CRISIS” in something, and a “BOOST” to pensions. The Express’s front page story is actually about an idea which is being “considered” (by the government).

“i” and the Belfast Telegraph go with “SHAKE-UP” (in education). I think we all know what that means.

The Daily Mail reports that the Church of England is at “WAR” with an ill-defined noun (“sleaze”). Slightly more interesting is the information that the church currently invests millions in Internet Service Providers.

The Mirror front page informs us that it’s “WAR” between the Prime Minister and Nick Clegg on Europe. (It’s not a trivial matter that the metaphor of armed conflict is commonly used on complex social and economic issues which have little to do with armed conflict. More on this when I discuss the “war” metaphor in a future piece).

The Evening Standard tells us that somebody important “HAILS” “women power”; the Wall Street Journal reports that a “SHAKY OUTLOOK lingers in Europe”. (If you have a photo of a lingering shaky outlook, please email it to me immediately).

The Telegraph lets us know that some money from somewhere will be used to “KICK-START” the economy; The Times reports that David Cameron is seeking “RADICAL REFORM” on something-or-other.

The Scotsman headlines with the story that charities are being “HIT” by a “CASH SQUEEZE”. (See my previous comments on media use of the “hit” metaphor).

To Summarise:

Shake-up in education, shaky outlook in Europe, war between church and sleaze, war between Cameron and Clegg, a hypothetical “crisis fund” to boost pensions, a bit of money to kick-start the economy, charities hit by cash squeeze, Cameron (when he’s not at war) seeks radical reform on adoption, and the Queen hails women power.

All in all, a rich collection of headline bullshit.

Written by NewsFrames

October 31, 2011 at 12:20 pm

“Bad businesses” – reframing wealth-creation?

Bad businessesSept 27, 2011 – Three of today’s newspapers (Telegraph, Guardian, Mirror) lead with Labour’s attack on “bad businesses”. If the previews of Ed Miliband’s speech are accurate, Labour is attempting to reframe “wealth-creation”. Miliband will say the Tories “talk as if the CEOs and the executives are the only people who create wealth.”

The true wealth-creators, according to Miliband, are “every man and woman who goes out to work”. In other words: JOBS RULE. Work is of primary importance in Labour’s moral-value system. (Back in 2001, the Labour government launched a Work First campaign. JOBS before everything else).

In the framing wars this is no threat to the ideological “free-market” right, where “businesses create jobs”. Even bad businesses. Miliband gets around this by citing “asset strippers” as the main example of “bad business”. (Asset stripping tends to lead to job losses). But this would imply that Labour’s measure of the “good” or “bad” of businesses is how many jobs they “create” or “destroy”.

Does the financial services sector come out as “good” or “bad” in this moral framing? Banks, credit card, loan, insurance companies, etc? They “create” vast numbers of jobs. Mostly low-paid soul-crippling work – eg in call centres; telemarketing nuisance calls, junk-mail production, stuff like that. The “services” they provide can perhaps best be summed up as shuffling lots of ones and zeros around in databases – from relatively poor to relatively rich account holders.

Given the widespread public anger over the bailout of banks (with taxpayers’ money), it would seem a good time to raise big questions about the type of “wealth” “created” by the banking and “financial services” sector.

But instead we get a kind of backwards reframing of “wealth-creation” from Labour. The “moral virtue of jobs” was a framing victory for the early industrialists/capitalists. E.P. Thompson’s classic, The Making of the English Working Class, (1963) described the process. Molly Scott Cato provided an excellent update (with regard to New Labour) here.

Alternative headlines:

Written by NewsFrames

September 27, 2011 at 10:14 am

Posted in Guardian, Jobs, Mirror, Telegraph

Contested concepts in the news

Contested conceptsSept 19, 2011 – George Bush used the words “freedom”, “free” and “liberty” 49 times in his 20-minute speech at the 2004 Republican Convention. The defining frame of Bush’s administration was “defending freedom”.

Freedom is a “contested concept” – it means different things to different people. It has a simple “uncontested core” (a central meaning everyone agrees on), but mostly it consists of blanks that need to be filled in with frames and metaphors.

For example, everyone agrees that coercion and harm interfere with freedom. At a visceral level, if you restrain or injure someone, you are interfering with their bodily freedom of movement. Beyond this basic level, the meanings of “coercion”, “harm” and “freedom” are contested. Take recreational drug use. Is it liberating or harmful? The blanks need filling in.

By “blanks”, I don’t mean the facts and particulars, but the value systems activated via conceptual metaphor and frames. The battle to fill in the blanks is being won by the right – conservative media, corporate thinktanks, etc. This isn’t about “spin”. It’s about how we conceptualise at the level of “common sense”.

The Mirror asked: “How can 59,017,382 people be so dumb”? But it’s (mostly) not a question of intelligence. If a person is unaware of their own deep frames and metaphors, then they’re unaware of the basis for their moral and political choices. One’s frames and metaphors define the range of one’s “free will” – you can’t will something that you can’t conceptualise.

The conceptual blanks get filled in to a scary degree by media repetition. Conduct your own experiment to confirm this: next time there’s some “shocking” news all over the front pages, ask a few relatively intelligent, moderate people for their views on the news story. Then stand back and observe how little of what they say doesn’t originate in mass-media framing (in a typical case, and I don’t mean the basic “facts” that we naturally rely on media to provide).

Written by NewsFrames

September 19, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Posted in Frame semantics, Mirror